A Connecticut court has just determined that a female police officer can advance her claims of sex discrimination and sex harassment. One of her primary complaints – the police chief repeatedly referred to her as that “chick cop.”
Despite some progress toward equality in the work place, sex discrimination and sexual harassment still continue. Fortunately, laws exist prohibiting discrimination “because of” an employee’s sex. This means that an employer cannot take a negative employment action against an employee based on his or her sex including things such as failing to hiring or promote, or firing someone because of their gender.
Sexual harassment is a different form of discrimination and involves unwelcome conduct at work that creates such an uncomfortable situation at work that it affects your job. In legal terms sexual harassment is describes as “a hostile environment based on your sex that is sufficiently severe and pervasive to alter the terms and conditions of your employment.”
If you have questions about sex discrimination or sexual harassment, it’s a good idea to consult with a top Georgia sex discrimination attorney right away.
In the recent sex discrimination case, the female police officer alleged that the Police Department chief repeatedly referred to her as “that chick cop” when talking to other department officials. She also asserted that she was denied her requests for paid administrative leave while male officers under substantially identical conditions were allowed paid leave.
Based on the evidence of disparate treatment, along with the use of this gender-based, derogatory description by a police chief to refer to a female officer, the court determined that the female officer could maintain her claims that she was subject to sex discrimination.
The court also looked at whether being called that “chick cop” repeatedly could constitute sexual harassment. In order to make this determination, the court evaluated the alleged conduct’s frequency, severity, its physical, threatening, or humiliating characteristics, and whether the conduct unreasonably interferes with work performance.
The court found that use of this phrase could constitute sexual harassment, noting: “its professionally derogatory impact could plausibly contribute to a hostile work environment because it could connote a lesser status and lead to the conclusion that the differential treatment she experienced was because of her gender.” Further, working under such circumstances while under investigation could plausibly alter the officer’s working conditions and interfere with her work performance.
As a result, the court found that the officer could proceed with both claims against the police chief as well as seeking punitive damages against the chief in her individual capacity.
Unfortunately gender discrimination and harassment still continue. If you believe that you may have suffered sexual harassment or discrimination at work, please contact the top Georgia discrimination lawyers at Buckley Bala Wilson Mew LLP for an immediate case evaluation.